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Japanese PlayStation 3s updated for e-cash

PS3 firmware update allows the console to accept IC-card e-cash for online shopping, but only in Japan.

This morning saw Sony Computer Entertainment Inc Japan (SCEI) let loose the latest version of the PlayStation 3 firmware, which adds a couple of data encryption fixes for online security and - most significantly - support for e-money readers.

The upshot of firmware 1.5 is that fans of IC-based e-cash cards can use those to pay for games and other add-ons when taking the PS3 online shopping.

It might seem pretty useless to most folk outside Asia but it's worth remembering that e-cash, such as the Edy -branded version Sony supports, is widespread in the East, with almost every new mobile phone including an IC chip that allows payments to be added to monthly phone bills.

Naturally, anyone wanting to use a PS3 with their virtual dosh needs to buy a reader - Sony sells its USB PaSoRi reader for JPY3,129 (£13). Many Sony Vaio PCs made in Japan already have one built in, although services tailored to those have been slow to appear so far. J. Mark Lytle